Bon Jovi sang 'Life is like a Roller Coaster', like our Choir rehearsals sometimes!
On a dark cold evening we rehearsed in our alternative venue. The first challenge was sorting out the seating. With a much narrower space it was a bit like musical chairs. However, we sorted ourselves out and started with the Christmas Medley.
We sang through the first part we had learned last week and did a good job. We then continued going over the songs, including our Spanish rendition of Feliz Navidad, right through the big finish like the last act of a big musical theatre show. Ricardo said it was ‘very lovely’. There was even a smile on his face!
The Reindeer Call was next. The sopranos started off beautifully, then the altos joined in, (so far so good). Then the tenors added their voices. The lady tenors did a wonderful job, so good in fact, that they were moved to the back row! The naughty tenors, who kept singing the soprano part, were brought to the front row so Ricardo could hear them clearly and keep them on the right track.
Celtic Women and their own unique version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
We Wish you a Merry Christmas, a simple two part harmony was well done. A Christmas song we all know so well but did you know-
Arthur Warrell (1883-1939) the Bristol-based composer, conductor and organist is responsible for the popularity of this carol. Warrell, a lecturer at the University of Bristol from 1909, arranged the tune for his own University of Bristol Madrigal Singers as an elaborate four-part arrangement, which he performed with them in concert on December 6, 1935. His composition was published by Oxford University Press the same year under the title "A Merry Christmas: West Country traditional song".
Warrell's arrangement is notable for using "I" instead of "we" in the words; the first line is "I wish you a Merry Christmas". It was subsequently republished in the collection Carols for Choirs (1961), and remains widely performed.
The greeting "a merry Christmas and a happy New Year" is recorded from the early eighteenth century; however, the history of the carol itself is unclear. Its origin probably lies in the English tradition wherein wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve, such as "figgy pudding" that was very much like modern-day Christmas puddings; in the West Country of England, "figgy pudding" referred to a raisin or plum pudding, not necessarily one containing figs. In the famous version of the song, the singer demands figgy pudding from the audience, threatening to not "go until we get some".
Christmas Lullaby was next which we went through bit by bit. The clue is in the title, so, especially the tenors, sing it gently with a lot of loveliness.
The tune is alternated between the tenors and altos and if the tenors sing their right notes, it gives the altos their starting note. It’s all about teamwork. The lady tenors (still in the back row) owned up to being wrong!
We all need a bit of 'Strictly' in our lives to feel that Rhythm of Life.
Our grand finale last night was The Rhythm of Life. The notes and the words were all there, so that was good. It just needs some contrast by starting quietly and building it up until page six and then bringing it down quietly on ‘tingle in your feet’. Then start to build it up again until page ten, then take it back down and build until page fourteen bringing it down on ‘tingle in your feet’. Building again until the very loud ending. It is a bit like a roller coaster ride. It will sound magnificent!
Keep up the good work and practice a little each day and it will be imbedded in your brain and then you will have the confidence to sing out and be heard.
Next week we are back in our usual venue. See you there.
The evening started with a traditional Finnish reindeer call, Ole Leloila. A simple three-part harmony song sung as a round.
Sopranos start and sing it through once on their own and then the altos join in followed by the tenors until we are all singing in a beautiful harmony. We finish with a very quiet start and gradually build up to a big crescendo at the end.
Hopefully we will herd in the audience and not too many reindeer!
This group gathered for fun at their local Christmas market to surprise shoppers as a flash mob singing Ole Lelolia
Fascinating Rhythm was revisited. It was difficult getting the rhythm as the timing is very challenging with a 3-4 count just before, ‘What a mess you’re making’ as we did make rather a mess of it!!
This was followed by a 3-4-1 count before ‘Each morning I get up with the sun’
The Zoomers did point out an error which Ricardo corrected. It shows they are paying attention and contributing even from afar.
After getting into the Latin Grove, we were back to the harmonies. When just the tenors, altos and 2nd sops are singing their harmonies together they are spot on. However, the 1st sops cause problems when they join in with the tune as everyone else wants to sing the tune too! A little practice will soon sort this out!
Once we had the right rhythm at the beginning, we worked our way through this to the end with the very challenging high notes!
Ricardo assures we are getting there.
Christmas Medley was next. We began with It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas going into the transition to Santa Baby. Sopranos challenged with Oohs. Why does it seem so much harder to find the right notes to sing ‘Oohs’ than if words are sung?
After the first slower numbers, we step up the pace with Winter Wonderland, beginning with ‘Sleigh bells ring’. A few more ‘oohs in this one too! The song goes straight into Last Christmas, again taking the tempo back down, so there are a lot of contrasts in this lovely medley arrangement.
Ricardo said we were flawless! We will complete the rest of this next week.
Let’s keep it up and put in some serious homework with the tracks. Listen to your individual voice parts until you are confident and then try singing along with the full track so you get used to the parts running with yours and get a feel of how it all fits. Sometimes it is easier when you hear the other parts too.
PLEASE REMEMBER NEXT WEEK WE HAVE A CHANGE OF VENUE
We will be in the Artisan Clubhouse which is the wooden building on the right-hand side just as you turn into the car park. There is door at the front and the back
See you there!
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
A huge gathering of In Flagrante singers tonight, even though we were still missing some of our regulars! This creates such a great atmosphere of camaraderie, but more importantly, a great sound!
We started with Carol of the Bells, a new song beautifully arranged by Ricardo,
It has been adapted for many genres, including: classical, metal, jazz, country music, rock, trap, and pop. The piece also features in films, like Home Alone, television shows, and parodies. Our own Elliot Clay arranged a version especially for us in 2018.
Ricardo had us sing the ‘Dings and dongs’ with emphasis on the ‘ng’ to give a bell like sound. It is a very repetitive song, so to make it sound more interesting he added dynamics of crescendos and diminuendos. It was sounding beautiful once we had mastered the techniques.
We then sang through Hallelujah, a great favourite which we had sung in our last concert. Although completely new to our newbies, singing this again gave us great confidence and a feeling of warmth and comfort.
Greensleeves was our next challenge. A song In Flagrante had performed in one of our first concerts in 2016, so it was only familiar to the very few of us who were in the original line up of the choir.
Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song. A broadside ballad by the name "A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves" was registered by Richard Jones at the London Stationer's Company in September 1580.
There is a persistent belief that Greensleeves was composed by Henry VIII for his lover and future queen consort Anne Boleyn. Boleyn allegedly rejected King Henry's attempts to seduce her and this rejection may be referred to in the song when the writer's love "cast me off discourteously". However, the piece is based on an Italian style of composition that did not reach England until after Henry's death, making it more likely to be Elizabethan in origin.
The tricky part of this song is getting the words in the right place and placing the emphasis on the second syllable to keep the rhythm going.
This song, like the others we sang tonight (and, indeed, the rest of the songs in the Christmas repertoire) need a lot of breath!
Before our rehearsals at 18:45, Jan kindly gives up her time and shares her expertise and talents to show us how we can improve our breathing techniques and build up to hold these long notes in a controlled sustainable way keeping right on the note. Also, how to project our voices so we sing out and be heard.
This is so important to not only give us confidence in ourselves, but to let our audience hear us clearly, whether we sing loudly or softly.
These sessions are highly recommended and are guaranteed to work, so do come early
and try for yourself. You will not be disappointed.